After an eight year hiatus, Citroen finally has a flagship again – except, well, it doesn’t quite.
The 2021 DS 9 sedan has been detailed for the European market, almost nine months after its arrival in China, and in a first for a French flagship, European versions will be Chinese-built.
Stepping in where the Citroen C6 left off in 2012 (and ignoring the completely unrelated C6 currently sold in China), the DS 9 tops the range for DS Automobiles, which was spun into its own brand, above the Citroen range, in 2014.
Based on the same EMP2 chassis as the Peugeot 508, the DS 9 runs a longer wheelbase, 105mm longer than the regular 508, 52mm longer than the Chinese market 508L long wheelbase and 20mm more than the seven-seat 5008 SUV.
Measuring 4930mm nose to tail, the DS 9 is slightly shorter than targeted rivals like the BMW 5 Series or Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The 2900mm wheelbase also falls just short, but at 1850mm wide, the big Citroen is just 10-20mm shy of its competitive set. No height has been given.
From the outside the DS 9 employs a number of DS styling cues, including the winged front grille, a ‘Guilloche style Sword’ chrome spear running down the centre of the bonnet, and bead-string LED running lights.
The body sides feature tailored sculpting with a crisp shoulder crease and flush-fit door handles. DS calls the roof profile a ‘slipback’ and if you look closely you’ll see a nod to the original Citroen DS, with a pair of high-set indicators at the top of the rear windscreen.
Euro buyers will be able to choose from three available drivetrains: a PureTech 225, E-Tense 225 or E-Tense 4x4 360.
The 225 engines are both rated at 165kW, but where the PureTech is a purely petrol-driven 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder, the E-Tense is a plug-in hybrid.
DS has yet to confirm the petrol engine's exact output, though it likely uses the 133kW tune shared with other Peugeot Group products. An 11.9kWh battery pack allows up to 50km of electric range, connected to an 80kW/320Nm motor for a combined 165kW total system output.
The flagship E-Tense 4x4 360 combines the same 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine, rated at 147kW and 300Nm, with two electric motors – an 80kW unit up front and an 82kW motor at the rear, enabling all-wheel-drive – for combined outputs of 265kW and 520Nm. All variants transfer drive though an eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission.
The DS 9’s all-wheel drive PHEV system is the same as that used in the recently revealed Peugeot 508 Sport Engineered, but while Peugeot is keen to emphasise the performance potential of its plug-in system, including 5.2-second 0-100km/h time, DS hasn’t provided any performance stats for the DS 9.
Although it may lack the legendary hydropneumatic suspension of the original Citroen DS, the modern DS 9 compensates with DS Active Scan Suspension, which uses a camera to scan the road, and can prepare the adaptive suspension for road surface changes via information pulled from level sensors, accelerometers and drivetrain sensors.
Driver assist features cover off items like adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping (for Level Two semi-autonomous driving), night vision, driver fatigue monitoring, and automated park assist functions.
Other safety systems include DS Active LED Vision headlights, active blind-spot monitoring, extended traffic sign recognition and autonomous emergency braking.
A smartphone app allows keyless access to the car, with the ability to grant access with up to five users.
Inside the cabin is where the DS 9 strives to make its biggest impression, with watch strap leather seats, available in Ruby Red or Black nappa leather, crystal control inlays, Alcantara on the console, roof, upper trims and parcel shelf, plus a 14-speaker Focal Electra premium audio system available on the top-spec Rivoli + trim level.
Pricing for the DS 9 Performance Line PureTech 225 starts from €47,700 (AU$78,100), or from €68,400 (AU$112,000) for the flagship Rivoli + E-Tense 4x4 360. Boastfully, DS suggests it is possible to price the flagship version as high as €80,000 (AU$131,000).
European deliveries are set to begin in October 2021, however with no official representation for the DS brand locally, the DS 9 won’t be offered in Australia.